Speakers who attended the tenth year anniversary of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) event said that forming a secretariat for the RCEP is necessary to make the trade deal effective and comprehensive.

RCEP is a “rules-based” multilateral regional free trade agreement. It entered into force in early 2022 after its inception ten years ago, which came about after the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiated under President Obama was nixed by his successor, President Trump, when he took office.

The tenth year anniversary of RCEP event was held over November 2-3 in person and virtually. It was presided over by Prime Minister Hun Sen and attended by foreign diplomats and government officials. The events were organised by the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN (ERIA) and the East Asia and ASEAN Secretariat.

It was held in a forum format with the theme “RCEP 10-Year Anniversary: Reminiscing on the Journey of RCEP”. According to the outcome statement for the forum which was released on November 4, many speakers and researchers in the region gave presentations on the progress of RCEP implementation in their countries and on the contents of this agreement.

The speakers were optimistic that ASEAN would be able to uphold its value and centrality better under RCEP because it provides ASEAN with the opportunity to facilitate and harmonize trade between ASEAN+1 partners such as China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

“Not only that, the agreement gives value to Small and Medium Enterprises as well as taking environmental issues into consideration. It aims to boost sustainable development and additional agenda items will be added for other sectors in the future,” said the press statement on the outcomes of the forum.